Address: 29005 N. Vista Verde Drive
Rio Verde, Arizona 85263
Director of Golf: Jeff Lessig, PGA
Administration: Carl Podwika, PGA
Course Superintendent: Robert Davis, GCSAA
Course Designer/Architect: Ken Kavanaugh
About This Course:
18 Holes of Championship Golf
Managed by BlueStar Resort & Golf
Par 72 – 7,229 yards from tips
Rating/Slope:73.8/143;72.8/140;71.7/135;70.6/132;69.7/128;69.0/125; 67.7/120;66.7/118;64.9/115;63.3/112;77.3/137;75.2/132;73.8/129; 71.8/126;70.0/123
by Alice & Danny Scott
A rose is still a rose by any other name. Verde River has had a few names but it is still one of the best desert courses for mountain vistas. Northeast of Scottsdale, it is a literal oasis with the Four Peaks and McDowell Mountains standing guard. Throughout the round sunlight reflects a rainbow of hues over the horizon.
Designer Ken Kavanaugh embraced the beauty of the land by minimally carving out a natural routing with fairways split by arroyos. Subtle changes of elevation enhance the Sonoran character of this playable track. Ryder Cup Captain and nearby resident Tom Lehman is overseeing renovations to the original design. Meanwhile the expansive practice range and putting area set the stage for the pervasive scenic beauty during the round.
Hole #3, par 5, 545 yards from the tips – The back patio of one of the early Shea homes constructed in this five star Trilogy community sits at the end of the fairway, in the elbow of the dogleg right, a primo spot for the inhabitants’ entertainment. A lone bunker is a great target to avoid. A narrower fairway to the left allows a closer look at the transitional area and far away green. To the right is safe, but will ensure at least a three shot hole. An approach too long on the elevated two tier massive green will fall off the back and require a delicate pitch, as the green slopes downhill from back to front.
Hole #7, par 4, 340 yards from the tips – This short par 4 invokes the temptation of driving the green, depending on the tee box from which you launch, but a generous landing area runs diagonally to a wash that meanders from tee boxes to behind the elevated green. Bunkers left and right highlight the dangers of going for the gold from the tees. A drivable par 4 may prove to be too much as desert sand and rocks will surely sting a bad swing. A nice layup with mid iron to hybrid gives you a better chance of a good score. But wait, we didn’t come here to lay up.
Hole #13, par 5, 555 yards from the tips – Angled fairways create a dichotomy of perceptions on many of the holes on this course. Some might see angles, some demons. This par 5 is again shaped diagonally from left to right with bunkers attracting even the best of drives. Stay toward the middle to right side and perhaps, depending on length of drive, you might have a chance to go for the green in two. However, the split fairway is at a distance that would initiate a layup because the tall saguaro and cacti that sits in the middle of the transition is imposing from anywhere. Choose wisely your angle of approach or the demon will haunt your decision. No matter, make sure to take advantage of the photo op here if you are ‘selfie’ inclined.
Hole #18, par 4, 411 yards from the tips – Coming home, this stretch is more challenging than it appears from the tee box. Serenity trumps difficulty as you enjoy the final views of the sprawling desert and peaks. A target approach is paramount as the left side is flanked with multiple bunkers. The long skinny green is protected on the right by a surprise pond reflecting the mountains on the glassy surface where ducks paddle about. This is another pretty shot for cameras, if not for golf.
The patio delivers relaxation with outdoor sofas to enjoy a libation and inhale fresh air complete with the mountain views outside the temporary pro shop, which has everything you need until the full clubhouse is built. And what a clubhouse it will be - 30,000 square-foot crafted by renowned designer Bing Hu, the award-winning designer at Silverleaf, DC Ranch, Encanterra and numerous others. Proposed amenities of the social club, operated by Scottsdale-based BlueStar Resort & Golf, include: signature restaurant; indoor/outdoor bar; classic café and gourmet market; full fitness facility; men's and ladies' locker rooms; spa facilities; resort pool; tennis and pickleball courts; sports shop; event center and more.
Verde River Golf & Social Club will eventually transition to a private club. Until then, public play is an affordable privilege. Go now or plan for the future and check out the homes at www.shearesortliving.com.